DJ Bone: The Music-Remixes
Subject Detroit

One imagines that the prospect of remixing DJ Bone's “The Music” might have been a tad intimidating for the seven producers involved in this double-vinyl remix set, given that the original contains what amounts to Bone's take-no-prisoners diatribe against the bloodless state of modern dance music: “What happened to the music? What happened to the soul?” Luckily for the contributors, the original is already so soulful and funky that it would be well nigh impossible for an interpreter to lose those qualities altogether in a makeover. And so we find that those involved—Bone himself along with seven beatmakers either based in Detroit or influenced by its sound —do, in fact, rise to the occasion in their eclectic spins on the original.

Bone inaugurates the set in fine style with a futuristic makeover powered by an irrepressibly jacking skip and strut. Supplementing the kick drum's rhythmic drive is vocal interplay that weaves a female voice's robotic “3-1-3” and Bone's clipped phrases in amongst swirling synthesizer patterns, string washes, and hand-claps, resulting in nine storming minutes that are as dizzying as they are hypnotic. Bone sets such a high standard with the opener, Trench's “Still Here and Buckwild” remix can't help but suffer by comparison, though the rapid-fire electro squiggler nevertheless makes a strong enough impression on its own terms, especially when echoing and panning claps ricochet so hyperactively alongside the loop of Bone's “funky” that plays incessantly.

In a smoldering take on the original, Samuel L Session merges the elastic thrust of a low-end bass pulse and pounding kick drum with creamy chords to get his funky and supple groove on, while Bone's diatribe plays out overhead. DJ 3000's “Motech” treatment polishes the original to a sleek sheen by animating it with a slinky, bass-throbbing pulse augmented by hand drums and modernist synth treatments. Midway through, the track collapses before starting up again, this time a tad more skeletally—all the better for tasting its percussive spices of triangles and bongos. Rennie Foster's swinging “No Lights, No Fights” achieves transcendant lift-off when it powers Bone's “I remember when we used to dance / To the music / No lights, no fights / Just soul” vocal refrain with a gloriously rolling bass line. Santiago Salazar slows the track slightly, all the better to gloss it up with a radiant electronic soul treatment replete with celestial synth swirls and a heavy, downtempo drum groove. Aaron-Carl focuses on the clubbier side in a hard-grooving house treatment that's funky and soulful in the extreme, especially in those moments when the cut shimmies forcefully. Scottish producer Stephen Brown winds up the collection by wrapping Bone's track in a heady keyboard riff, its hypnotic quality deepened by the closed hi-hat pattern that merges with it and the thumping bass pulse that roils down below.

The threat of repetition is always a concern whenever a release bases itself upon remixes of a single track, but that's not the case here as all eight of the versions on The Music Remixes are sufficiently different to prevent boredom from setting in. The most common thread is the spoken material, but even there the producers work with it in different ways. There's no denying, however, that as strong as the contributors' versions are, none matches Bone's own stunning makeover. It's one, so to speak, for the ages.

February 2011